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This dissertation discusses brass bands in Mobile, Alabama and their individual "brands"(performance norms) and their relationship to the broader branding aspects of the city's Mardi Gras. I call this brass branding. How do the brass bands showcase their brand verbally and performatively? How do different forms of Mobile Mardi Gras media incorporate brass band aesthetics (visually and/or aurally) to convey Mobile as a Mardi Gras city? I answer these questions through interviews, ethnographic observations, and analyses of media to show how brass band aesthetics are tied to Mardi Gras. I found that the brass brands in the case studies I discuss are multifaceted and function differently from context to context. The brass brands communicate different messages regarding what Mardi Gras means to individuals or communities in Mobile. Collectively, though, the brass brand case studies show that Mobilians take great pride in their Mardi Gras and recognize the integral role of the brass band tradition. Overall, this project offers approaches to studying the relationship between musicians, marketing, and events to understand how ritual participants see and imagine themselves. Examining the branding of Mardi Gras shows how Mobile is portraying itself as a "music" city like New Orleans to live up to the same level of exceptionalism and how the bands each contribute to the festivities through distinctive modes of performance.
A Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Charles E. Brewer, Professor Directing Dissertation; Jennifer Atkins, University Representative; Michael Broyles, Committee Member; Frank Gunderson, Committee Member; Eduardo López-Dabdoub, Committee Member.
Florida State University
Allen, E. R. (2021). Brass B(r)ands in Mobile, Alabama's Mardi Gras. Retrieved from https://purl.lib.fsu.edu/diginole/2021_Fall_Allen_fsu_0071E_16826